When the doctor said to me….”Oh yeah, looks like you do have PCOS.” (To learn more about What is PCOS, click here!) My first thought was, OMG! What is wrong with me!?!
It all started in my young adult life when acne was my biggest concern. It was something I struggled with ever since I could remember. I tried everything; antibiotics, topical ointments, cleansers, moisturizers, etc. Nothing seemed to work well. I had some vicious scars on my face that made me feel ugly and inadequate.
I also seemed to have irregular periods…but at the time it wasn’t my worry. As a young woman I wanted to look my best and skipping my period was the least of my worries.
My doctor recommended I try a birth control pill to help with my acne and irregular periods. I was hesitant about that recommendation, but at that point I would try anything to help get rid of my acne! The pill affected my mood and emotions…to the point where I had to stop the pill and was now experiencing hormonal mayhem.
At this point, I was serious about taking my health into my own hands. I went to see a Naturopathic Doctor who helped to balance my hormones and heal my gut (since that was one of the culprits of my skin issues). As time went on, I continued to try and maintain my health and my skin got better, but my periods were still irregular. I struggled with hirsutism, blood sugar imbalances, fatigue, stress and anxiety.
Having been inspired by my experience, I decided to go back to school to become a Naturopathic Doctor myself to help women just like me and this is where I really started to understand what was going on with my own PCOS. I studied hormones, blood sugar dysregulation, digestive health, fatigue, skin health, weight challenges and more.
“I became a true connoisseur of everything PCOS and hormones because I wanted to heal myself before I could help others.”
The more and more I became educated, the more excited I became to share my personal experience with PCOS! I started learning about what I call the Pillars of PCOS. Check out my blog post on 4 PCOS Pillars Working through the Pillars of PCOS I determined my condition was predominantly Testosterone and Inflammatory related.”
HERE’S HOW I FOUND OUT:
The first thing we ever did was run a lab test with all hormones (estrogen, progesterone, LH, FSH, prolactin), thyroid panel, glucose markers and testosterone markers. Check out this blog post on my top PCOS lab tests.
Through this, I found out that everything was normal except for having high DHEA.
I found out I had what is called Leaky Gut Syndrome – which was the cause of inflammation in my gut and was the result of the many many courses of antibiotics I took to heal my acne.
Knowing this information, I knew that I had to focus on 2 things:
- Healing my gut AND Check out this blog post on Gut Health and PCOS
- Work on my response to stress since typically high DHEA is related to the adrenal glands. Check out this blog post on Top 10 Treatments for High Androgens.
Fast forward a few years, I learnt more about insulin resistance, especially in lean PCOS women. In the past, my fasting insulin and glucose always looked good but when I did an Insulin Glucose Challenge test I learned that I do have some insulin resistance. Which makes sense because I commonly have symptoms of feeling “hangry” if I haven’t eaten consistently throughout the day, a family history of diabetes and when I gain weigh, it usually goes to my midsection.
UPDATED PLAN ON TREATING MY PCOS
MENTAL and EMOTIONAL: It wasn’t until I was able to really clear any mental or emotional events in my life that I became ready to start healing. I try my best to practice mindfulness via meditation. This helped me to practice acceptance in all aspects of my life. I also found that using botanical herbs helps me to balance stress and anxiety.
DIET: I recently adjusted my diet to focus on insulin resistance and balancing blood sugar. This involves lots of good healthy fats, a decent amount of protein, lots of vegetables, some carbohydrates and limited amounts of sugar (even ones considered as healthier sources like honey, maple syrup and certain fruits). This has truly helped my skin and overall health. Blog post coming soon – My PCOS Pantry
EXERCISE: After becoming a Naturopathic Doctor, years ago, I was burnt out so I was really gentle with my body. I knew that I didn’t want to further stress out my body, so I opted for walks and doing yoga in an effort to help boost my mood and deal with any anxiety and stress along the way. Recently, I have incorporated more strength training to help balance insulin and glucose. I use small weights (5lbs) and take it easy and make sure I take in electrolytes during my workout.
SUPPLEMENTS: There are so many different supplements to choose from it can become overwhelming. Especially when you know too much. With the help of my own ND, we decided vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, along with adrenal support, and botanicals are the right combination for me.
BOTANICALS: Since my adrenals were where we wanted to target, we chose herbs that specifically helped to manage my stress response such as Withania, Scutellaria, Eleutherococcus and Passionflower. I also benefitted from using a botanical tincture which was a combination of specific herbs geared towards balancing my hormones. Check out this blog post on My Top 5 Botanicals for getting pregnant with PCOS
ACUPUNCTURE: Weekly acupuncture has really helped me. I find that it really calms my body and balances my hormones. It can take some time (generally we say 3 months, since it takes this long for an egg to mature) to really notice a difference. Once things get moving and everything starts to balance out it can be a very beneficial treatment option! Check out this blog post on Acupuncture and Fertility.
BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE: Recently with the help of the Bioidentical Hormone, Progesterone, it has helped to regulate my cycles, improve my skin and my hormone levels.
As you can see, I have tried multiple different therapies. Each one being successful in it’s own way. But what I have learned that for me what it comes down to is making sure I eat a healthy diet and managing my response to stress. I can say I have learned the ins and outs of hormonal dysregulation through my personal experience and I hope to inspire others out there that are frustrated and confused as to what is going on with their own PCOS and hormonal imbalances.
Feel free to drop me a message to share your story! I would love to connect 🙂